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This Big Wild World is happy to feature Jackie Szeto, the voice behind Life Of Doing travel blog, in this month’s “Find Your Adventure” series.
Jackie is an avid world traveler, wanderer, and blogger. She loves to spend time outdoors hiking, biking, or walking around town. Originally from the Bay Area in California, United States, Jackie currently lives in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam with her husband, Justin.
Life Of Doing is a blog which focuses on travel itineraries, travel inspiration, and hiking around the world. It’s about a “life of doing!”
Read on to hear what Jackie learned on her first big trek in Peru and her advice for fellow adventurers.
What does adventure mean to you?
Adventure is the opportunity to figure out what you want to do and create a plan to conquer this new and challenging activity/event. It’s taking the scary risk and doing something out of your comfort zone. The activity may be intimidating. You may fail and have an emotional roller coaster ride. It’s about your own perseverance and learning from the experience. Plus, you get to create new memories and have new perspectives from the activity. The good part is that you don’t need to travel far to experience an adventure. It can be done in your hometown by trying something new, like a yoga class or biking to work.
Tell us about your first adventure! Where did you go and what did you do?
My first adventure was back in 2011. My husband and I went on a 5 day/4 night Salcantay hiking trek from Cusco to Machu Picchu, Peru. It was our first time visiting South America and doing a long backpacking hike with camping. The longest hike that we had done before this trip was only 2 hours, so this trek was pushing our boundaries with 6-8 hours on the trail each day!
The hike itself was challenging, both mentally and physically. But, we loved seeing the changing landscapes from the green hills to the snowy mountains and luscious rainforest. The second day of the hike was one of the worst feelings that I’ve had. It was much colder than expected and I experienced altitude sickness. My body didn’t want to move and I was mentally drained. But, I forced my way up the mountain to the summit at 4600m (15091 ft) and was relieved that the hardest part was over. The rest of the hike was much more enjoyable. The last day of the trek was a dream come true when we arrived at Machu Picchu! It was an early wake up call to hike from Aguas Calientes to the entrance of Machu Picchu. The former Inca city was spectacular with the sunrise and picturesque ruins.
The hiking experience made me realize how strong my body is after going up and down the hills. I also realized that the hiking community is supportive and helps anyone in need.
Is there any adventure that’s intimidating or off limits to you?
I’m open to most adventures. One thing that is off limits though is exploiting animals used as tourist attractions such as posing with tigers or riding elephants. Animals need to be free and in the wild; and going on a safari to see them in their wild habitat is a great experience.
What has connecting with your sense of adventure taught you?
There is so much to see in this world and no right or wrong way to experience adventures. Exploring the world has helped me develop more resiliency and flexibility when things happen. We’re no longer so strict with our travel schedule. We used to ensure that every single minute was spent doing something, with no room for changes. Also, some adventures have improved my mental awareness of situations and surroundings, and helped me become more understanding of other cultures and perspectives.
What’s on your must-have gear list?
For every trip, I need a good pair of hiking boots, sturdy daypack, sunglasses, reusable water bottles, sunscreen, and Tiger Balm (good for muscle relief and relieving itchy insect bites).
Do you have a favorite kind of adventure?
As you can tell from the previous answers, I love hiking! Since our Peru trip, we’ve done some incredible hikes over the years including hiking Mount Whitney in Southern California and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. I love being in nature, seeing beautiful views, and challenging my body.
What’s your dream adventure and why?
Visiting Antarctica is on my bucket list. It’s the continent that has the most allure due to the pristine landscape. I want to see the glaciers before they disappear! Although it will be cold in Antarctica, I can’t wait to ride in a zodiac boat and see the penguins and seals up close. Winning the lottery is a goal since a trip to Antarctica is expensive!
What is one piece of advice you would share with a fellow adventurer?
Life is too short to dwell and say “what if?” Go out and plan your next adventure now. Share your passion and excitement with others. Things may not go as planned and that’s okay. As long as you stay positive, everything will work out.